Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Phish at Merriweather Post Pavilion 6/26/10

Baltimore Sun:
The Vermont quartet played for nearly four hours, ripping through 23 songs in two sets. They launched the first with "Crowd Control" and "Kill Devil Falls," the same two songs they opened with last August at Merriweather — a show that met with much criticism from fans new and old. Phish, therefore, meant one of two things with this identical start: We're going to try this again OR maybe you didn't hear us the first time.

A steady roar from the 17,000-plus in attendance made it clear that ears were wide open as the band jammed a variety of classic, new, and obscure tunes under a June full moon.

"AC/DC Bag" and "Tube" got the booty juice flowing in the muggy Maryland air, while "Sugar Shack," "Stash," and "NICU" pleased listeners with a penchant for Caribbean and other ethnic-flavored rhythms. Fans were also treated to a rare cover of "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Guitarist Trey Anastasio displayed mastery of his instrument by rarely looking at his Languedoc six-string or effects when soloing. Likewise, Page McConnell, gave the audience an education in keyboard dominance, navigating brilliantly over his Hohner clavinet and grand piano.

Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman threw a combination of heavy-weight bass and drums punches that hit you squarely in the sternum. At times, Fishman drove into his Zildjian crash with rage that lifted him off his throne.

The second set blasted off no less aggressively than the first with "Rock and Roll" and "Free." Phish's light designer, Chris Kuroda, matched the band with a syncopated tapestry of both cool, mellow hues and intense, seizure-inducing flashes.

Phish, staying true to their improvisational DNA, captivated the crowd with a deep, dark, raunchy rendition of "Tweezer," before bringing them back to earth with a fine version of "Silent in the Morning." The band would close the second set with a trio of Phishhead favorites: "Wolfman's Brother," "Slave to the Traffic Light," and a deafening "Tweezer Reprise."

The band encored with a new ballad called "Show of Life" and the Led Zeppelin rocker "Good Times Bad Times." This juxtaposition of soft and hard coming-of-age tunes perfectly represented this latest iteration of Phish: an older, wiser band whose music and abilities have been forged and refined by fire into sharp and deadly forces.

Set I: Crowd Control, Kill Devil Falls, AC/DC Bag, Sugar Shack, Tube, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel cover), Stash, Backwards Down The Number Line, NICU > 46 Days, Suzy Greenberg

Set II: Rock and Roll (The Velvet Underground cover) > Free, Fast Enough For You, Sparkle > Tweezer, The Horse > Silent In The Morning > Wolfman's Brother > Slave to The Traffic Light > Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)

Notes: Prior to the start of the first set, Mike teased Do You Feel Like We Do. This show featured the Phish debut of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel). Suzy contained a Leigh Fordham reference from Fish. Tweezer featured a Watcher of the Skies tease from Mike. Wolfman's contained a vocal jam.

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

More information:
» "Wolfman's Brother" Official Video
» June 26, 2010
» June 27, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Round of 16 - USA vs. Ghana

USA 1:2 a.e.t. Ghana
June 26, 2010

RUSTENBURG, South Africa - Grim-faced American players filed by one by one on their way out of Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Their World Cup was over.

They’ll have four long years to dwell on what might have been, how the most-talented team in U.S. soccer history was knocked out in a game the Americans were convinced they should have won.

Life on the World Cup edge came to an exhausting and crushing end against a familiar foe Saturday night, when Ghana — led by Asamoah Gyan’s goal 3 minutes into overtime — posted a 2-1 victory that ended a thrilling yet futile tournament for the United States in the second round just when it seemed the Americans had a relatively easy path to the semifinals.

"We felt like we had a great opportunity," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "We just gave ourselves too much of a mountain to climb. We just couldn’t come back."

Kevin-Prince Boateng put Ghana ahead when he stripped the ball from Ricardo Clark in the fifth minute and beat Howard from 16 yards. It was the third time in four games the U.S. fell behind early, and once again the Americans rallied.

Landon Donovan tied the score with a penalty kick in the 62nd minute, his U.S.-record fifth goal in World Cup play and 45th in international football, after Jonathan Mensah pulled down Clint Dempsey streaking in. But that was it.

There was no offense left, no spark, no fire — unlike the first-round come-from-behind draws against England and Slovenia, and Donovan’s memorable injury-time goal against Algeria that lifted the U.S. into the knockout phase.

"We tried to push and push," U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "I don’t know if we just didn’t have anything left because we had been pushing so much the entire tournament."

All five U.S. goals in the tournament came from the team’s midfield backbone: three by Donovan, one by Dempsey and one by Michael Bradley. No American forward has scored in the World Cup since Brian McBride in 2002.

"I thought we had a good grip," Michael Bradley said. "We were pushing the tempo. We were the ones getting chances."

In the first-ever extra time World Cup game for the U.S., Gyan got the winning goal when he took a long ball from Andre Ayew over the defense and beat Bocanegra, his teammate on the French club Rennes. Gyan let the ball bounce, took a touch with his chest, and with Jay DeMerit vainly trying to catch up, scored over goalkeeper Tim Howard with a left-footed shot from 16 yards.

"I had my angles right there. There no question about it," Howard said. "He absolutely crushed it."

The goal set off horn-honking celebrations in Ghana, a West African country nearly 3,000 miles away.

"We’ve made everybody proud," Gyan said. "Not Ghana alone, but all of Africa."

Ghana, the only African team to advance past the first round of Africa’s first World Cup, eliminated the Americans for the second straight World Cup following a 2-1 win that knocked out the U.S. in the group phase in Germany. The Black Stars join Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) as the only African teams in history to reach the quarterfinals. It will meet Uruguay at Soccer City on Friday.

While the U.S. came from behind to draw England 1-1 and Slovenia 2-2 in the first round, the Americans looked ragged this time. They go home pondering a World Cup that could have been so much more. They thrilled the large number of Americans who were the largest group of overseas ticket buyers, but failed to do as well as the 2002 team, which reached the quarterfinals in the best U.S. finish since 1930.

An upset of European champion Spain in the semifinals of last year’s Confederations Cup in South Africa had raised expectations.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup Group Stage - USA vs. Algeria!

USA 1:0 Algeria
June 23, 2010

Loftus Versfeld Stadium
Pretoria, South Africa

"Landon Donovan was there as a young kid in '02, and wasn't ready. He admits he wasn't ready for that role in 2006. He felt like he was ready coming to South Africa. And the belief he talked about isn't artificial, it's not manufactured, it comes from experience. The United States scored nine goals in qualifying from the 86th minute on. No other team in the World Cup had half that many." -Chris Fowler
Over and over, everything seemed to go against them.

A referee took away a win last week, and a linesman disallowed another goal Wednesday. This time it was Dempsey scoring from close range in the 20th minute on what appeared to be a valid goal that was nullified for offside.

The rest of the first half (and the game) was more of the same, with the U.S. compiling near-miss after near-miss in front of a partisan crowd cheering their every move.

With the other Group C match seeing England defeat Slovenia 1-0, the Americans needed a winning goal or they would have been eliminated from the World Cup.

Now there was just 3½ minutes left in their World Cup, just that much remaining until all the doubts about American soccer would rise again.

But then, in one of the most stunning turnarounds in World Cup history, Landon Donovan scored on a lightning fast counterattack 45 seconds into 4 minutes of injury time.

With the most amazing late-game moment in American soccer, the United States beat Algeria 1-0 and reached the World Cup's second round.

USA's all-time leading scorer joyously ran to the corner flag, sliding headfirst in a belly flop, and his teammates ran down the touchline to mob him.

He was in tears and even 30 minutes later his eyes watered and voice cracked as he talked about the goal. The field long empty, American fans remained in the stands, still cheering, waving the Stars and Stripes and blowing vuvuzelas.

"I've been through a lot in the last four years," Donovan said with tears in his eyes. "I'm so glad it culminated this way. When you try to do things the right way, it's good to get rewarded."

Donovan's goal was the 44th of his international career. It was also the fourth World Cup goal of his illustrious career, tying him with Bert Patenaude on the USA's all-time list. The match was also Donovan's 11th all-time World Cup appearance, tying him for the U.S. record with Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart. Donovan has started 11 consecutive World Cup games for the United States dating back to 2002. He also becomes the only U.S. player to score multiple goals in two different World Cups.

As a 20-year-old in 2002, Donovan scored two goals and became a star. But expectations became crushing in 2006, when he went scoreless and the U.S. was eliminated in the first round.
"We all believed we were going to win this game," Jozy Altidore said. "No other result would have worked for us."

The U.S. had its best attacking game of this tournament, with 23 touches in the opponent's box, a 69.7 percent passing accuracy in the opponent's half and 10 shots on target. The Yanks' previous tournament highs were 15 touches in the box, a 60.1 percent passing accuracy in the opponent's half and six shots on goal, all against Slovenia.

After the match, former President Bill Clinton, who is the honorary chairman of the U.S. Bid Committee for the 2018/2022 World Cups, came to the locker room to personally congratulate the team on the historic victory.

President Barack Obama called the U.S. World Cup soccer team Thursday to congratulate it on advancing to the next round of the World Cup.

The United States won its first World Cup match in eight years and finished atop its first-round group for the first time since the original World Cup in 1930. With a quick turnaround, the Americans play Ghana on Saturday night (2:30 p.m. ET, ABC) in Rustenburg for a spot in the quarterfinals. Ghana won the final match of the opening round against the Americans to knock them out of the tournament in Germany four years ago.

"We're not done yet," Donovan said. "We believe, man. We're alive, baby."

Team USA on Twitter
Herculez Gomez: "cant even begin to express how proud I am to be on this team... USA all the way."

DaMarcus Beasley: "BIG win for us!!! Sooo proud of all 23 players! Thanks for all support from everyone, ALL fans! LOVE ya'll."

Charlie Davies: "YAAAAAAA! We did it! So proud of the boys! We have won the group #worldcup What's happening?. Amazing accomplishment & we still have more to achieve. #USA United States"

Jozy Altidore: "WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Andrés Escobar: "The Gentleman of the Field"

"It's hard to think, sometimes, that our lives might come down to one moment, to one mistake that becomes larger than the sum total of everything else we ever did. And yet, that often seems to be the case, particularly for athletes." -A.V. Club
Andrés Escobar Saldarriaga was born March 13, 1967 in Medellín, Colombia, a violence-stained city where he grew up and cultivated a love for the game of soccer. He joined Medellín's professional club team, Atlético Nacional, and helped them win the Copa Libertadores in 1989.
He became the star defensive player for Colombia's national team, and played in the World Cup in both 1990 and 1994. He was raised as a devout Catholic and believed he could improve his nation by playing soccer.

Led by captain Andrés Escobar, the Colombian nation team dominated in their World Cup qualifiers, losing only once. In their most impressive victory, they destroyed Argentina 5-0 in Buenos Aires to advance directly to the World Cup. The team played so well that the legendary Pelé declared them the favorite to win the Cup.

Colombia's impressive run to qualify for the World Cup helped unite the entire nation. The president would personally call players to congratulate them after wins. The team interacted with heads of state and brought pride to their nation. Andrés and his team knew that they were playing for something greater than themselves.

When Colombia lost 3-1 to Romania in the opening match at the World Cup, the players received death threats. Drug lords, who lost money gambling on the team, threatened to kidnap players' family members, and one player's brother was killed back in Medellín. Sports became quite literally a matter of life and death.

Entering a must-win game against the U.S., the players were tense and unfocused. They should have easily defeated the United States, but Andrés Escobar scored an own goal (his only own goal in international play) off of a cross from U.S. midfielder John Harkes, and Colombia lost 2-1.

For the Colombians, the own goal had a disastrous and chilling effect. The 27-year-old Escobar, one of his country’s greatest players, was held accountable for the loss. Colombia failed to make it out of the group stage of the World Cup, its first in 28 years.

Ten days after the loss to the U.S., on July 2, 1994, Andrés was shot dead outside a nightclub in his hometown of Medellín, Colombia. His death is still cloaked in mysterious circumstances. Humberto Castro Munoz, a bodyguard for members of a powerful Colombian cartel, was charged with Escobar’s murder but was released in 2005, having served just 11 years of a 43-year sentence. Three other accomplices that night were not charged.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called that day "the saddest day I have ever witnessed in football."

Colombians desperately hoped the team they sent to the 1994 World Cup could help to rehabilitate their national image. Instead, the team's poor play and the violent reaction it set off back in Colombia that included kidnappings, death threats, and eventually murder, only wound up reinforcing it.

Andrés Escobar is still held in the highest regard by Colombian fans, and is especially mourned and remembered by Atlético Nacional's fans. Every year people honor Escobar by bringing photographs of him to matches. His funeral was attended by over 120,000 people and a statue was built in his honor.

(Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's The Two Escobars may be the best ESPN "30 for 30" film to date.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

NCAA Football: ACC Outlook

Virginia Tech closed the 2009 season in fine style, whipping Tennessee 37-14 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Until the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Hokies had not defeated an SEC team since beating LSU in Lane Stadium in 2002. A 10-3 record marks another successful season for Frank Beamer and his coaching staff.

In football, there's nothing quite like having an experienced player under center. Nine ACC teams are fortunate to be bringing back full-time starters.

ACC Quarterback Comparison
Player Team Games Starts
T.J. Yates UNC 32 31
Tyrod Taylor VT 36 28
Joshua Nesbitt GT 36 25
Russell Wilson NC State 23 23
Christian Ponder FSU 23 21
Jacory Harris Miami 26 15
Kyle Parker Clemson 14 14
Dave Shinskie BC 13 10
Marc Verica UVA 17 9
Jamarr Robinson Maryland 7 2
Sean Renfree Duke 6 0
Skylar Jones Wake 0 0

With five quarterbacks returning who have started 20+ games in their respective careers, ACC offenses could be looking up in 2010.

And if offensive line play can improve this year, we should see improved rushing numbers.

Top Returning Running Backs
Player Team Car. Yards YPC TD
Ryan Williams VT 293 1,655 5.6 21
Montel Harris BC 308 1,457 4.7 15
Jermaine Thomas FSU 163 832 5.1 9
Ryan Houston UNC 191 713 3.7 9
Graig Cooper Miami 134 695 5.2 4
Anthony Allen GT 64 618 9.7 6
Josh Adams Wake 113 541 4.8 4
Andre Ellington Clemson 68 491 7.2 4
Da'Rel Scott Maryland 85 425 5 4
Desmond Scott Duke 70 262 3.7 1
Brandon Barnes NC State 25 79 3.2 1
Torrey Mack UVA 23 73 3.2 0

Williams and Harris had huge seasons last year, with Williams rushing for twice as many yards as the #3 returning rusher on the list. The only teams that don't return a back with much experience are NC State and Virginia. Everyone else will have reliable ball carriers on the field this season.

Some teams will have running backs by committee. In Virginia Tech's case, it's a very talented committee. Besides Ryan Williams, the Hokies return Darren Evans, who ran for over 1,200 yards as a r-freshman in 2008. If they don't choose to redshirt David Wilson, they will also have the talented sophomore as an option.

Most ACC teams return the majority of their experienced wide receivers in 2010.

Returning Wide Receiver Production
Team Rec. Yards TD
Duke 174 2418 15
Wake Forest 166 2167 20
FSU 140 1762 6
Maryland 133 1638 10
UNC 111 1363 11
Miami 107 1762 11
NC State 100 1692 18
Virginia Tech 92 1389 10
UVA 61 741 3
BC 52 873 9
Clemson 34 536 4
*GT is not included

Those numbers include the top three returning wide receivers for each team. Georgia Tech is not included in the analysis because the Yellow Jackets run such a different offense, and because they have no returning receiver who caught more than six passes a year ago.

The Hokies bring back all of their wide receivers for the 2010 season. Tech doesn't air it out as much as the other teams in the ACC, and they are unlikely to in 2010 because of the return of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. However, Tech still has a capable group of receivers. Their numbers might not be gaudy, but Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin are both on pace to set the Virginia Tech career receptions record.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Second Battle of Bull Run

A splendid army almost demoralized, millions of public property given up or destroyed, thousands of lives of our best men sacrificed for no purpose. I dare not trust myself to speak of this commander [Pope] as I feel and believe. Suffice to say... that more insolence, superciliousness, ignorance, and pretentiousness were never combined in one man. It can in truth be said of him that he had not a friend in his command from the smallest drummer boy to the highest general officer.
-Union Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams

The Second Battle of Bull Run, or, as it was called by the Confederacy, the Battle of Second Manassas, was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) fought in 1861 on the same ground.

Following a wide-ranging flanking march, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope's line of communications with Washington, D.C. Withdrawing a few miles to the northwest, Jackson took up defensive positions on Stony Ridge. On August 28, 1862, Jackson attacked a Union column just east of Gainesville, at Brawner's Farm, resulting in a stalemate. On that same day, the wing of Lee's army commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet broke through light Union resistance in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap and approached the battlefield.

Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against him. On August 29, Pope launched a series of assaults against Jackson's position along an unfinished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson's right flank. On August 30, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps, Longstreet's wing of 25,000 men in five divisions counterattacked in the largest, simultaneous mass assault of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army was driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rearguard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas disaster.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Group Stage - USA vs. Slovenia

USA 2:2 Slovenia
June 18, 2010

Ellis Park Stadium
Johannesburg, South Africa

Before the match, Slovenian midfielder Andrej Komac guaranteed victory over the United States: "We are going to win this match." We are playing our style of football and we'll continue with that, and we can beat the U.S. with that style."

The Slovenians, from a nation of two million facing a team from a nation of 309 million, drew ahead with two goals in the first half, from Valter Birsa on 13 minutes and Zlatan Ljubijankic on 42. The Americans flubbed several great chances of their own in the opening half.

But the Americans hit back early in the second half when midfielder Landon Donovan cut in from the right and lashed a shot high above Handanovic at the near post.

Donovan ran that ball right up to goalkeeper Samir and blasted it right over his head from a sharp angle.

In the 82nd minute, Michael Bradley scored the equalizer off of Jozy Altidore's header into space.

The Americans might even have won the game only for referee Koman Coulibaly to rule out a goal from Maurice Edu, who volleyed home Donovan's free-kick from the right. In a postmatch TV interview, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley said he did not know what the call was that disallowed the goal. Landon Donovan said the referee did not tell the players what the call was.

The Americans had rallied from two goals down to win a match only once in their history, a 1995 friendly vs. Saudi Arabia.

The result left Matjaz Kek's Slovenia top of Group C with four points, ahead of England's meeting with Algeria later in the day, and ensured the Americans remain undefeated with two draws ahead of their third game against the Algerians.

Friday, June 18, 2010

NBA Finals 2010

The Lakers' 83-79 win Thursday night on ABC earned an 18.2 overnight rating. That's the highest for an NBA game since Michael Jordan won his last championship with the Bulls in Game 6 of the 1998 finals against the Jazz, which posted a 22.9.

After winning his 11th NBA championship ring, Phil Jackson didn't want to talk much about whether he will return next season as Lakers coach. If Jackson can lead the Lakers to another crown next season, and you better believe they'll be the favorites, it would mean four three-peats in his career. He earned rings with Chicago from 1990-93 and 1995-98 and with the Lakers from 1999-2002 before now having won a second straight title for Los Angeles.

Kobe: "I got one more than Shaq. So, you can take that to the bank."

Shaq to Kobe: "Congratulations Kobe, u deserve it. U played great. Enjoy it man enjoy it. I know what ur saying ‘Shaq how my ass taste.’ "

Best Of Clerks Animated Series

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spotlight: Fordlândia

Fordlândia ("Ford-land") is a now-abandoned, prefabricated industrial town established in the Amazon Rainforest in 1928 by American industrialist Henry Ford for the purpose of securing a source of cultivated rubber for the automobile manufacturing operations of the Ford Motor Company in the United States. Ford had negotiated a deal with the Brazilian government granting his newly formed Companhia Industrial do Brasil a concession of 10,000 km² of land on the banks of the Rio Tapajós near the city of Santarém, Brazil, in exchange for a nine percent interest in the profits generated.

Ford intended to use Fordlândia to provide his company with a source of rubber for the tires on Ford cars, avoiding the dependence on British (Malayan) rubber. The land was hilly, rocky and infertile. None of Ford's managers had the requisite knowledge of tropical agriculture. The rubber trees, packed closely together in plantations, as opposed to being widely spaced in the jungle, were easy prey for tree blight and insects, a problem avoided by the Asian rubber plantations where transplanted Amazonian rubber trees faced no such natural predators.

Henry Ford’s miniature America in the jungle attracted a slew of workers. Local laborers were offered a wage of thirty-seven cents a day to work on the fields of Fordlândia, which was about double the normal rate for that line of work. But the indigenous workers, given unfamiliar food such as hamburgers and forced to live in American-style housing, disliked the way they were treated, and would often refuse to work. They had to wear ID badges and work midday hours under the tropical sun. They were also required to attend squeaky-clean American festivities on weekends, such as poetry readings, square-dancing, and English-language sing-alongs.

Ford forbade alcohol and tobacco within the town, including inside the workers' own homes, on pain of immediate termination. The inhabitants circumvented this prohibition by paddling out to merchant riverboats moored beyond town jurisdiction and a settlement was established five miles upstream on the "Island of Innocence" with bars, nightclubs and brothels.

In December of 1930, the native workers revolted against the managers, many of whom fled into the jungle for a few days until the Brazilian Army arrived and the revolt ended. A British journalist writing for the Indian Rubber Journal visited in 1931, and wrote, “In a long history of tropical agriculture, never has such a vast scheme been entered in such a lavish manner, and with so little to show for the money. Mr. Ford’s scheme is doomed to failure.”

In 1933, after three years with no appreciable quantity of rubber to show for the investment, Henry Ford finally hired a botanist to assess the situation. The botanist tried to coax some fertile rubber trees from the pitiful soil, but he was ultimately forced to conclude that the land was simply unequal to the task.

Never one to surrender to circumstance, Ford purchased a new tract of land fifty miles downstream, establishing the town of Belterra. It was more flat and less damp, making it much more suitable for the finicky rubber trees. He also imported some grafts from the East Asian plantations, where the trees had been bred for resistance to the leaf blight. Starting from scratch, the new enterprise showed more promise than its predecessor, but progress was slow. For ten years Ford’s workers labored to transform soil into rubber, yielding a peak output of 750 tons of latex in 1942– far short of that year’s goal of 38,000 tons.

Be that as it may, Ford’s perseverance might have eventually paid off if it were not for the fact that scientists developed economical synthetic rubber just as Belterra was establishing itself. In 1945, Ford retired from the rubbering trade, having lost over $20 million ($200 million in today's dollars) in Brazil without ever having set foot there.

The solid structures of Fordlândia and Belterra were left largely empty for the decades following the towns’ demise. Teams of Brazilian workers were tasked with maintaining the areas to preserve the buildings, but their remote locations left the Brazilian government wondering how it could possibly take advantage of the modern facilities. Today the plantation towns are being marketed as stops on Amazon tours. Much of the plantation land is now used for local agriculture, producing crops such as beans, rice, and corn. Many of the towns’ residents today are squatters.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup Group Stage - USA vs. England

USA 1:1 England
June 12, 2010

Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Wayne Rooney. It's a gentleman’s game played by hooligans.

England keeper Robert Green misses Clint Dempsey's weak shot.

Dempsey celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal.

More information:
ESPN's Match Report
World Cup Drinking Game!
The Onion: Nation's Soccer Fan Becoming Insufferable

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Robben Island, South Africa

William Ernest Henley. (1849-1903)


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance5
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,10
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:15
I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicago Blackhawks Win Stanley Cup

For the first time since 1961, the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions.

Philadelphia hasn't won a championship since 1975, when it defended the Cup it won the previous year. The Flyers have lost all six Finals they've played in since then.

The team winning the first two games at home has gone on to win the Cup 32 of 34 times. The 1971 Hawks were one of two teams that failed to win after winning Games 1 and 2 at home; the other was last year's Detroit Red Wings.

Patrick Kane had 8 points in the series, the most by a Chicago player. Kane's Cup-winning goal in overtime was his third of the series, and he had 5 assists -- two of them in Game 6.

The Professional Hockey Writers' Association selected Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews as the most valuable player of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toews had just 3 assists in the Stanley Cup Final series triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers, but had 7 goals and 22 assists in 22 playoff games this spring to lead the NHL in playoff scoring.

Even without offense, Toews is an exceptionally valuable member of the Hawks based on his very mature leadership qualities at age 22 and his uncanny ability in the faceoff circle, where he has won 60 percent of his draws.

Game 6 of the Final on NBC was the most-watched (8.28 million) and highest-rated NHL game on U.S. television in 36 years. Four of the six games broadcast by NBC Sports in the series averaged 6.1 million viewers, the best on network TV in 13 years.

The landmark playoff run was highlighted by the most-watched first two rounds on U.S. cable in history, the most-watched NHL game in TSN’s history, and record TV ratings in local markets such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston.

Top Plays Of The Finals

A Toast To The Playoffs

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Important Message From Ted Leonsis

from: Office of Ted Leonsis
reply-to: Office of Ted Leonsis
date: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 2:42 PM
subject: An Important Message from Ted Leonsis

Dear Caps Fan,
By now you have probably heard the news that my partners and I have completed our purchase of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center and created a new company – Monumental Sports & Entertainment – that owns those entities as well as the Capitals and the Mystics.

You’re likely to see and hear more from me on this news in the coming days – in the media, on my blog (, at the NBA Draft. It’s big news, and something my partners, my family and I are very excited about.

But I’m here to assure you that even if you hear me talking about the Wizards a lot, I haven’t – and never will – overlook the Capitals and our commitment to bring a Stanley Cup to Washington. I will continue to be focused on your well being and happiness.

A few people have asked how I expect to juggle these new responsibilities. I believe I’ve always been someone with great “bandwidth” to cover a variety of interests, including different companies, film projects and, foremost, my family. The Wizards will have a place in those interests, no bigger or smaller than the Caps – just as I don’t choose between my son and my daughter!

The creation of Monumental actually creates opportunities that I hope Capitals fans are excited about. We now program Verizon Center and we hope to be able to offer terrific new cross-marketing opportunities to our fans. We plan to continue to improve the fan experience at Verizon Center and will count on your feedback to do so. And we will over-index on scheduling and maintenance-oriented projects related to all of your teams.

Thanks as always for your support, and I will see you at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Caps Convention and Verizon Center in the upcoming months. And I’m always available to you at

Ted Leonsis

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strasburg: The Hype & The Debut


Even before his major league debut, Stephen Strasburg, the college phenomenon who was the No. 1 overall draft pick last year, lived up to expectations — and to his record $15.1 million contract. Considered by some scouts as the best pitching prospect in decades, Strasburg, with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball, was 7-2 with a 1.30 earned run average in 11 starts in the minor leagues this season.

Fans in Washington have been swept up in the hoopla. They scooped up tickets to Strasburg’s major league debut Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and some of them were trying to resell those tickets online for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. The game was a rare sellout for the Nationals, and the 200+ requests for news media credentials reached World Series proportions.

The buzz has not stopped there. A baseball card of Strasburg recently sold for more than $16,000 on eBay. Versus, the cable network known for covering the N.H.L., last week broadcast Strasburg’s final tuneup in the minor leagues, the first baseball game shown by the network.

Before he even took the mound in the major leagues, Strasburg was owned by 86 percent of players in Yahoo’s fantasy baseball leagues, the same percentage who owned San Francisco’s Barry Zito, who has six wins this season.

“It’s captured everyone’s imagination,” Stan Kasten, the president of the Nationals, said of Strasburg. “This is the biggest thing since the inauguration.”

Because of the volume of interview requests, the Nationals limited access to Strasburg, fueling his mystique further, Kasten said. Sales of Strasburg’s jersey at Nationals Park have been brisk throughout the year, he added.

Strasburg, of course, is not the first new arrival to make a splash. About 150 members of the news media, 4 Japanese television crews and 50,000 fans came to see Jim Abbott, who was born with no right hand, start his first game at Anaheim Stadium in 1989. Four years later, he threw a no-hitter for the Yankees.

About 36,000 fans came to see David Clyde make his debut for the Texas Rangers in 1973. Clyde ended up winning the game, but he earned only 18 career victories in five seasons because of arm trouble.

In the Washington area, the excitement about Strasburg has caught many Nationals fans off guard. Tickets are often so plentiful and cheap that fans often buy their seats at the stadium on game day. This season, the Nationals have averaged 21,600 fans, half their stadium’s capacity and 24th in the league.


If it was possible to live up to that hype, the tall, sturdy kid with lightning in his right arm and the hopes of a beleaguered fan base in his hands did it, pitching magnificently for seven innings in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in his major league debut.

"It was just a great night for baseball in Washington," Manager Jim Riggleman said.

Strasburg struck out all nine Pirates in the starting lineup and struck out the final seven batters he faced. He hit 100 mph on the radar gun twice, allowed two runs on four hits -- including a two-run home run by Delwyn Young in the fourth inning -- walked none, and provided a new memory in Washington sports history.

On the eve of the major league debut of last year’s top overall pick, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals selected the 17-year-old slugger Bryce Harper, a junior-college standout from Las Vegas.

In 62 games this season for the College of Southern Nevada, Harper batted .442 with 29 homers and 89 runs batted in. As a high school sophomore, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and he has been called the best teenage power-hitting prospect since Mickey Mantle.

Soon the attention will turn to the Nationals’ efforts to sign Harper, who is represented by Scott Boras, the agent who negotiated Strasburg’s record $15.1 million contract last year. The Nationals have until Aug. 16 to come to terms with Harper.